Harnessing the Power of Community: Impact Grants 2017

Three of our Impact Grant awardees tell us how the program has allowed them to make a difference.

April 4, 2017 | 6 min read
Piper Beatty Welsh, J.D., M.P.A.

If there's one thing I've learned through my years of working within and alongside the cystic fibrosis community, it's that people with CF and their families are a creative, industrious, and, above all, determined group that is always ready to meet the next challenge. Being able to connect with and hear from so many of you continues to be one of the most powerful and fulfilling aspects of my work, and it is also part of what makes the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Impact Grants program so exciting.

The Impact Grants program, which began in 2016 with our first round of seven outstanding recipients, seeks to harness this exceptional community spirit by providing grants of up to $10,000 per year to individuals or organizations with projects that benefit either a large cross-section or an underserved population of the CF community. We hope to be able to grow this venture even more in 2017 -- and we need your great ideas to make that happen.

Applications for the 2017 Impact Grants program are available through our online grants portal, proposalCENTRAL. Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. EDT, Wed., May 31. All completed applications will be reviewed by the CF Adult Advisory Council, an external review board comprised of adults with CF. Their recommendations will then be passed on to Drucy Borowitz, M.D., vice president of Community Partnerships, for final approval.

To give you a little inspiration, we reached out to three of our awardees to learn more about their projects, their plans for the future, and how the Impact Grants program has allowed them to make a difference.


Breathe Bravely, sINgSPIRE Program

Ashley Ballou-Bonnema, adult with CF

The sINgSPIRE program, through Breathe Bravely, will provide 15 students 10 weeks of free, private voice lessons with a qualified voice instructor, who will work on strengthening participants' respiratory systems and improving their self-awareness and confidence.

Piper: Tell us a story about someone whom you have been able to help as a result of this grant.

Ashley: The Impact Grant … has allowed students from all over the country to take part in something truly unprecedented -- private voice lessons focused on enhancing a student's breath awareness and respiratory strength through the art of singing. Our first five students range in age from 7 to 36 years old. Halfway through the 10-week program, each instructor has seen progress in their student's respiratory self-awareness, breath management, and most beautiful of all -- the art of singing.

Piper: Thanks to the Impact Grant, you will now be able to …

Ashley: … to create and share something that's so life-changing and profusely powerful with the CF community -- all in hopes that they too will know the significance and impact of the art of singing.

Piper: What is your vision for the future of your organization/the people you're supporting?

Ashley: Whether it be within lesson one, lesson 10, or lesson 45, sINgSPIRE hopes each student comes away with a deeper understanding and awareness of his or her own breath through the art of singing. We want every student to feel the lifelong impact that the art of singing can have on their lives with CF -- enhancing their quality of life while experiencing the multifaceted benefits of singing.


Project CF Spouse

Megan Barker, founder and wife of a man with CF

Project CF Spouse provides support and education for spouses of people with CF.

Piper: Tell us a story about someone whom you have been able to help as a result of this grant.

Megan: We are still very early in our organization, so it is hard to assess the gravity of being able to establish this organization as a nonprofit. However, from its inception, the response of all members has been an overwhelming sigh of relief knowing that they have connected with other people walking similar paths with CF.

Piper: Thanks to the Impact Grant, you will now be able to …

Megan: … to grow our vision for the organization. We have very specific goals, and with the Impact Grant, we will be able to start laying the groundwork for these projects.

Piper: What is your vision for the future of your organization/the people you're supporting?

Megan: Ultimately, our vision for the organization is just to have it continue to grow and change to meet the needs of its members. We plan to do this by being able to expand upon the services we offer by using feedback from our members.


Empower Project from Attain Health

Kat and Mike Porco, parents of a child with CF

Empower Project, part of Attain Health, is an online health coaching and personal training program for individuals with CF.

Piper: Tell us a story about someone whom you have been able to help as a result of this grant.

Kat: I think it might be best to hear from the participants themselves. Here is what they shared with me:

Anna, 30: Through the Attain Health Program, Kat and [Co-Founder] Mike [Porco] have taught me that change is possible. Slowly but surely, I am learning to balance the complex reality of life as an adult with cystic fibrosis. I have learned that small victories are in fact big victories, and that they pave the way for sustainable and manageable change.

Colin, 34: Having structure with exercise and health coaching has helped me take more control of my life with CF.

Brian, 42: I know that we are only a couple weeks in, but I truly believe that you are saving my life. This will be giving me the greatest chance to postpone transplant and be in my best shape mentally, physically, and emotionally when that time comes.

Piper: Thanks to the Impact Grant, we will now be able to …

Kat: … to partner with 15 amazing adults who have formed their own goals to actualize their best state of health. Goals for each client are different and range from adhering to treatments and medications to integrating strength and conditioning workouts three times a week, from cutting out soda to implementing a healthy high-caloric diet. We meet the client where they are.

Piper: What is your vision for the future of your organization/the people you're supporting?

Kat: Mike and I hope that Attain Health is able to continue to support adults for years to come, helping to bridge the gap between clinic recommendations and home implementation.

If you have any additional questions, or would like more information about the Impact Grants program, please email impact@cff.org.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Get Involved | About the CF Foundation

Piper  was first diagnosed with CF at 6 weeks old in 1981, and has since been the survivor of two double-lung transplants. Piper attended Emory University, received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School and then went on to earn her master's in public administration from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. She is the owner and author of the popular CF and transplant blog, A Matter of Life and Breath, and lives in Colo. with her husband and puppy.

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